In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is an assisted conception technique used to treat all forms of infertility other than those involving a male factor problem. The technique involves adding previously collected and prepared sperm to a laboratory dish containing the eggs for fertilisation. The eggs, following fertilisation by the sperm “in-vitro”, develop into embryos which are then returned to the woman’s uterus, through an “embryo transfer” procedure. Any remaining embryos from this process may be suitable to be frozen and used at a later date.
For single women and some couples, the use donor eggs or donor sperm offers the best or the only way forward, for one or more reasons. The use of donor treatment brings with it a unique set of questions and emotional impacts. We understand this, and along with specialist counselling, wish to offer a supportive environment in which you can explore all the issues around your decision to undertake donor treatment.
One to two percent of men who have been diagnosed with infertility will have a complete absence of sperm in the ejaculate called azoospermia. In some of these men, the sperm production is normal, but there is a blockage which prevents the sperm from entering the semen.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an advanced form of IVF, where a single sperm is injected into an egg to achieve fertilisation. It is advised in male factor infertility, including in severe cases of azoospermia (complete absence of sperm in the ejaculate) where surgically retrieved sperm is used.
The patient will follow a similar care pathway as in IVF till egg collection. The laboratory process will now vary in that the eggs are cleaned and checked for maturity, and a single sperm is injected into the egg under high power microscopy.
This is a growing area due to the improved survival rate following cancer treatments. Here, fertility treatments are used to obtain and freeze the gametes before patients commence their oncology treatment.
Eggs can be frozen to be used at a later stage or couples may choose to freeze embryos. In men, sperm storage is readily available.